Chapter 7: April 13, 1832
Through his open window, a soft euphonious chirping of La Marsellaise was heard by Courfeyrac, whose feet was propped up on the wall, as his brows met in concentration while reading De Oratore by Marcus Tullius Cicero in preparation for Blondeau's oral examination a few days from now. Mentally translating the Latin to French was proving to be quite a headache, and he found himself feeling a bit envious at the ability of his friend Marius to command languages swiftly, fluidly, and delightfully. All in thought, speech, reading, and even in interpretation, he said to himself, and then he shook his head. In the end, he closed his book with an irritated sigh, promising to come back to it later after their conventicle. Maybe Enjolras can help discuss it while we are waiting on the others, he thought, standing up to open the door in his room.
A blonde urchin toothily looked up at him in greeting, as Courfeyrac gaily welcomed him to enter. "What news do you harbour, Gavroche?"
"Er, something for me, something for you, first?" the boy quipped, his limbs akimbo and lips curling roguishly.
Rolling his eyes, Courfeyrac chuckled before reaching from the pocket of his trousers a few sous to give to the gamin, who takes it as he ruffles his hair. "Well?"
Swatting his hand away, Gavorche responded, "We little pups are on it, but Navet and I will do most of the leading. The belly of the Lady is also ready, but I'll need to introduce the Chief to a guide."
Nodding at this, Courfeyrac rested a hand on the boy's shoulder. "Soon, I hope?"
"What's that certain word you all use - ah! Quinzaine! Yes, two weeks from now," Gavroche said, raising his chin in pride.
The dark-haired schoolboy ruffled his hair again, much to the annoyance of the gamin. "Ah, good, you're learning more vocabulary! Who taught you that? Prouvaire?"
"That's what you think, but no, I caught it from the Chief!"
"Well, it's better that it's words than guns, then."
"Eh! I can aim with a musket better than you!"
"Ha! You better not let Enjolras catch you doing that."
"What a bore."
"You better not let Enjolras catch you saying that."
"There is a certain fragility in the pursuit of immortality. Whatever the method, it cannot end well. The body is just an ephemera, lost in the sands of time and frivolities of life. Only reverence at the uncertainty of the recollections of those that will be left behind. Little lives breathing between the shafts of light and darkness, blurred in the greyness of reality. This is the enigma of liberty - that which can only be salvaged and saved by what is vulnerable yet venerable. That which is fierce and a force unreckoned. That which is welcomed in the comeliness of the true purpose of humanity. Love. A certain solid foundation in the treatises of people and treaties of nations. This, which I speak no lightly of, is the substance of freedom, and it is realised perfectly through the will of the people. What ill that becomes of it lies in the flawed ambitions of the terrors of yesteryears that only gestated the destruction of Patria. Only the residue of the fervent dreams of her children remained. Yet here in lies the fitful threads of hope. It is for this reason that our coteries exist and our conventicles persist. No matter the errant nature of our ways in the eyes of our fallible laws. Status quo allows for the opportunity to be captured by us to commemorate it and transform it into a comeliness that is befitting Patria. This is the onus we thus find ourselves in, and mes amis fideles, that the combined labours of our communion may shake the stars into birth," Enjolras declared as he ended his speech. His midnight blue eyes shifted around, and if met by the light of the lamp in the dimly lit room, there was a certain shine around it, as if tears came but stilled as he maintained the resolve of the subject in his oration.
Satisfied at the weighted silence that followed his speech, he thus turned to his left side to nod to Courfeyrac, who proceeded with the session and relayed the agendas present for them to discuss. "In all your recent missives, which we have all gathered, the division that comes to light is this. Since our faction already went over the barricade plans last time, we will go last, also because Sinclair and a few others have something to say. Liberté de la Marianne will be with us in that. Thank you, Citoyenne Ferreira," the dark-haired schoolboy said, upon receiving a note and folding it for later. "Hence, in the urgency of matters, Les Iris de Force will lead the subject of funding, followed by Marché Bastille on the matter of supplies. When that is settled, L'œuvre de l'Homme on exercises and news to be given by Les Féminines Ferveurs shall be open for scrutiny. Are there any questions before I let Citoyenne de Maupassant begin?"
A cough in the lattermost part of the pub caught his attention, and Courfeyrac formed a polite curl on his lips as he saw who it was. "Yes, what is the matter, Citoyen Renault?"
"I understand that Les Amis de l'ABC is familiar with the women contingents, but is it really within their capacity to be first? I realise that money is a pertinent matter, but surely supplies are of more weight? Especially in this revolution?" Lucien Renault from Marché Bastille inquired tersely, crossing his arms. A rather spiteful visage was framed upon his pursed lips, and the irritation in his dark eyes only pronounced his opposition to the order of the conventicle.
Enjolras, Courfeyrac, and Feuilly were ready to counter him, but before any of them could, Citoyenne de Maupassant tapped her parasol unto the floor three times to get their attention. "You would not have supplies without a sustainable enabler, and that is money. You will do Rosseau no justice by hindering me. As it stands, some of his views are noble, but not the one describing the activities that befit a woman. I am more inclined towards Condorcet, if you will, so no more of this pitiful attempt of yours to disturb the meeting."
"Sorry? What? I hardly think-" Lucien was about to continue until Citoyenne Eloise Ferreira glared at him with her fierce, nearly translucent grey eyes. "What? Women do not belong in the barricades! They will just get hurt, and then all the more worry will be have had. The streets will just be filled with blood, and then what would you all do? Cry?"
At this, Citoyenne Ferreira stood, vitriol emanating from the way her fists were at her sides, as she angrily retorted, "How dare you, Citoyen? Really now? What of blood? If it's blood you are having problems with, I firmly believe that we deal with it every month! In that, we shall have more experience than you ever will. Do us the service of politely sitting down in silence and waiting your turn."
Bahorel tried hard to stifle a guffaw, but a few chuckles found itself heard, and he abruptly saw Joly, who was hiding, and nearly shaking from the effort to contain giggles, and it just snapped him even more. Combeferre's eyes widened in worry as he looked up from the pamphlets he was reading on as he looked over his friends, but then he saw what was happening and lost it, as well. Suddenly, this catapulted the rest of the people in the room to erupt into laughter. It is this that made Lucien Renault roll his eyes, and sit defeatedly, his eyes turned to the ground. Feuilly felt a curl forming in his lips, but he fought it and was able to keep his face straight as he coughed and urged Courfeyrac to reclaim the order of the conventicle.
"Erm, everyone?" Courfeyrac waved his hands in front of him to once again get the din's attention, but he was failing rather spectacularly as Grantaire egged the ladies on to keep spiting the Marché Bastille leader.
"What a laugh! This is even better than Balzac's La Comédie humaine! Keep it gay, mes cheries! You all got him well!" Capital R exclaimed, laughing and then humming Frères, Courons Aux Armes when he saw Prouvaire roll his eyes beside him.
"Everyone? We need to focus, seriously, please?" Courfeyrac attempted once more when he saw the visage of Enjolras stiffening. He himself was rather perturbed at the way the conventicle has turned, but it can't really be helped. He tried again, if only to alleviate the tension in his friend's shoulders. He would have to remind Combeferre to talk with the Chief sooner or later about all this again.
When it was clear, however, that no one heeded him, he felt Enjolras pat his shoulder lightly as if to say No matter, I'll handle this. Courfeyrac nodded his gratitude, and merely quieted himself. The fair-haired student then stood up, pointedly looking at the source of all the excitement.
Jehan was one of the first to notice, and he tried nudging Grantaire, who was now busy opening another bottle to drink. The latter nudged him back in jest, but when he felt the ferocity of Enjolras's glare, he coughed and hushed himself.
Soon enough, all the contingents noticed the piercing look and became silent right away. Where speech failed, the tenacity of his stern gaze sufficed.
Combeferre sighed, shrugging at the look Feuilly gave him from beside their Chief.
Bahorel nudged Joly, and whispered, "I called it on the right night. I knew this conventicle would not pass without one glare from the Chief. You owe me." Groaning, their rather hypochondriac friend reached from his pocket and gave him some louis d'ors beneath the table.
Courfeyrac saw all this interaction, and tried hard not to laugh, for fear of instigating another riot, so he swallowed hard and clutched his pen tightly.
"Citoyenne de Maupassant, if you please," Enjolras interjected, not meeting her eyes and looking down as he sat.
"Very well," the Les Iris de Force leader responded, and proceeded to detail a financing scheme for all factions to follow. Soon after, suggestions here and there were made, and it was about eleven o'clock in the evening when all the agendas and reminders to look after each other and always have one or two companions were exhausted without further disturbances. Courfeyrac also told them that the contingents will be receiving letters on the date of their next conventicle soon before bidding them a farewell.
"Sinclair, why does your Chief appear not to gaze directly at women? Is he afraid, or something?" Citoyenne Da Silva inquired of her lover, holding his hand as they left Corinthe. "I find it odd, given the gifts he has."
A smirk on his lips, Bahorel touched her lip with a finger, and he replied, "He has no eye for any other woman other than Patria. He also dislikes the attention. But at best, Lucille, I think, it is because he is aware of it, so by neglecting the rest, he saves them from expecting too much of him. It's that, or I think you'd best ask Theo."
"How like a marble, don't you think?" she commented, kissing his cheek.
Bahorel laughed into the night before meeting her lips as they went home.
There he was at Rue Plumet. With her, of all people.
Their eyes locked, longing tangible between them, and their hands - their hands holding each other's!
It was more than Eponine could take, but alas, it seemed that they were not done, and to her horror, she witnessed their kisses.
She gasped, her teeth gritting and hands balling into fists. Mine. He's mine. How dare you, alouette? How dare you!
Then she saw how Marius took this bourgeois brat's waist closer to him, and he sighed in her mouth, as Cosette cupped his face with her hands, and eyed him with a certain earnestness that Eponine did not know, and it was all happening so fast as she felt her heart sink, sink deeply into the abyss of an unknown depth. She could only eye them as her dear monsieur le baron ensconced her even nearer to him as their lips met again and again. And again.
The gamine blinked, and felt a certain wetness falling from her lids. "I love you," she snarled from afar, eyeing them bitterly as they continued muttering sweet things that she can never taste and murmuring places in high society she knows she will never visit.
"I love you," she repeated, this time more softly, as she hid in the shadows, feeling how distant her fantasies appeared now that she perceived it being blown away in this moment. Gone quite instantly.
Quickly, Eponine picked up the tatters of her skirt and ran to the place where she knew best to wonder freely.
Enjolras found himself quite alone, peering into the vastness of the Seine as he calmed himself after the occurrences at their conventicle. He sighed, wondering how else would they have handled the din in that room, had he not done what he had done.
I understand that this is your way of doing things, and there is no harm in what you do, I tell you. But the others are not as forthcoming at being understanding as we are, Combeferre reminded him apologetically, a few minutes after the termination of the meeting.
I'll bear that in mind, no matter, he replied, leaving the room.
Once more, he sighed, walking away from the bridge, and he thus started to head back to his apartment. A lot of things weighed on in his mind. Already, he has read and prepared for Blondeau's examination, and even aided Courfeyrac in dissecting the topic, but satisfaction on the subject eluded him. Perhaps, it was because he wanted to finish that, and be done with it, so he could think better and be more active in more prevalent and urgent affairs. What with the attack on Bossuet and the mysteries his mother has not yet answered in her ciphers.
Victor told him that his mother will meet him soon, but the exact date remains to be yet ascertained. Enjolras put his hand inside his pocket, in order to balance his journal, their group's pamphlet, and more books carefully. He was going to turn right when a certain gamine bumped on him.
It was well and good that he was able to secure his belongings so it didn't fall off his hold. He was about to say something to the woman, whom he noticed was crying, but at the sight of her defiant stare, he held his tongue.
Silently, the gamine shook her head and walked away from him.
Enjolras watched her desolate figure slowly approaching the bridge, and he sighed, finding himself quite alone once more.